Nine Magical Months….and then what?

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    Here is a diary kept by a (slighty crazy) mum-to-be, on her 1st pregnancy.


    Becoming a mother was the most overwhelming, enjoyable, infuriating, exhilarating, terrifying, challenging and rewarding experience of my life. It challenged me in ways I never thought possible. I am still the same person Iwas 10 years ago but somehow, I am also a completely different person.

    I started keeping a diary when I was 7 weeks pregnant. I was so overwhelmed by the emotions I was feeling, that I had to let them out in some way. I couldn’t believe it, women had been having babies for thousands of years but no-one had ever told me it would be like this. (Those of you who are mothers are now thinking, if we were told what it’s really like we might rethink and wait a tad longer!)

    So, there I was, laughing, crying, shouting and vomiting -often all at the same time. I had emotions flying out of me and I had to do something with them so it came down to this – either put pen to paper or….stab husband with said pen! I opted to put pen to paper. My husband, fearing for his life, kept me in a steady supply of stationery. And so I kept a diary of my ‘Nine Magical Months’ and the months of euphoria, change and upheaval that followed.

    I sure am glad I kept notes because it is very true what they say – we do forget a lot about pregnancy and the birth afterwards. I suppose its just nature’s way of making sure you have another baby! (I reckon if we remembered it all, we may reconsider having siblings!) Come to think of it, if I had been reading my own memoirs, I may not have two beautiful baby girls here to annoy and constantly harass their big brother.

    I have written this book week by week, just like I wrote my diary. Now, quite a few years after I started it, I’m dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s. The time span of getting it done just proves my brain is not up to much anymore!

    For the ladies: I hope it will bring you some laughs if you are reading it as you go through your own pregnancy. Or perhaps it will stir up some nice memories if you are already a mother. If you are not a parent – I hope it does not turn you off the idea altogether, honestly, the journey is well worth the destination.

    For the men: If you’re with someone who is pregnant, I hope this recollection does not send you running for the hills! If you’re already a Daddy maybe it will inspire you to look back with fondness, at the lunacy and crazy antics of your partner when she was pregnant.

    If you’re none of the aforementioned and are just reading out of curiosity, I hope you find it entertaining and have a few laughs.



    Before the 2 blue lines appeared

    It was a dark night in December 1974. My parents did not have atelevision and the winter was harsh. Nor did they have central heating, so it was a case of huddling together for the ‘warmth’. Well, we all know what happens when the huddling starts….9 months later, I came along.

    18 years later my story starts.I was a hard working student – well, ok, I was a student who worked hard occasionally! I was very happy in college apart from one thing that was bothering me. I suffered from terrible abdominal cramps. They could plague me, usually quite suddenly, at any time of day. I was so used to crouching over mid sentence, that my friends coined the phrase ‘ouch period pains’ whenever I would stoop over. After a few seconds, it would pass and I would return to normal and we would carry on as if nothing had really happened.

    This went on for a while and of course, as it was not getting better, it only got worse. One day in college I did my usual ‘stop and crouch over’ but on this particular day, I could not get back up. I had to stay in that position until my, by now, long suffering best friend, could go and find the college nurse. She had me carted off to hospital straight away for suspected appendicitis.

    In I went to hospital where they did some tests and told me I had Irritable Bowel Syndrome. So for the next year of my life, I lived mostly on salads, brown bread and lemon barley water! It did not get better despite the amazing amount of roughage I was going through each day.

    By the time I reached 19 years of age the situation had not improved much but being a teenager, I left it until I could not stand up straight again before going back to the doctor. (Typical teenager, leaving it until the last minute and waiting until I could literally wait no more!).

    The doctor had me carted off to hospital again, my best friend in tow, carrying my books for me and this time, they said it was actually appendicitis.

    They were literally hours away from yanking my appendix out when someone suggested checking there was nothing else wrong through an ultrasound scan. A litre of water and very uncomfortable scan show an ovarian cyst. It was the size of a grape and I was told it was ‘all part of becoming a woman’ (I am not kidding unfortunately) and that I would ‘probably grow out of it’ (seriously, this was the diagnosis!).

    I was sent home with a prescription and a doctors voice ringing in my head telling me to ‘drink plenty of water’. As we all know, drinking plenty of water is the second best cure in Ireland, the first of course being a cup of tea, that can cure most ailments.

    At the ripe old age of 20, I was back at the hospital again. Another ultrasound showed that my little friendly cyst had been busy growing and was now the size of a plum. The ‘pill’ would do the trick they told me and sent me packing with a prescription for that. Oh and of course they reminded me to ‘drink plenty of water’ – with all the water I was drinking I could have floated home!

    Ages 22 I was back at the hospital again. My friendly little cyst was now the size of a golf ball and was happily curling its way around one of my ovaries. They decided it was time to take action and so, keyhole surgery was cited as the best way to deal with it. In I went, signed the consent form, said my prayers and squirmed with awkwardness as they shaved me ‘down there’ in my nether regions. They were not particularly kind or sympathetic as they left me bald as a coot – well mostly bald, apart from a few sporadic clusters of pubic hair that managed to survive the blunt razor and bar of soap they used!

    Oh I can tell you, there was a much sharper chill wind that winter. It’s harsh when you’re without insulation’ down there’ as I was most unfortunate to discover. (I don’t think I’ll ever voluntarily go for a Brazilian, I’ve been too traumatised by this experience!)

    Even worse than the chill though, was the constant itching when it started to grow back – in tufts! I’ll never forget how they used that awful disposable razor and chunky bar of soap. I can still remember every crak in the ceiling, I was staring at it so hard.

    One successful (at the time) surgery later, I went home and recovered from my little operation and was back on my feet in no time. I was happy and cyst free….or so I thought.

    Aged 24, I was back in a different hospital with a different doctor. I hoped I would get a different diagnosis at a different hospital but sadly, my cyst had come back and as if it was mad at me for trying to get rid of it, had grown to be the size of an orange. I was advised that another round of keyhole surgery could ‘perhaps’ get rid of it but that it could grow back. They said it was like a football, the keyhole surgery deflated it and removed its contents but the skin remained and could re-form.

    I crossed my fingers that the second round of keyhole surgery would do the trick. Sadly it did not and 8 weeks after the surgery I had a scan which showed not only had it grown back again but was now the size of a grapefruit.

    That was it, I needed to have full, open surgery to remove the whole thing. I was so nervous because the cyst was right on my ovary and part of my fallopian tube and I really wanted to have children some day….

    After the surgery, the surgeon told me they had been forced to remove part of one of my ovaries. That was bad enough to hear but then he continued that there had been damage to a part of my fallopian tube too, where the cyst was entangled in it. He gave my partner and I the grave news that it could affect our chances of having children. It was not hopeless but it might be difficult.

    After that, my period came every 2 weeks and I felt awful. I was walking around like a zombie…I went back to the doc and he recommended anti-depressants and said they would help me sleep! He assured me they were not addictive and said hopefully my cycle would settle down soon.

    I was no assured, I did not need more sleep, I needed a regular menstrual cycle so I took charge of the situation myself. I started doing yoga and doing a bit more exercise, I went for regular massage and I used Wild Yam and Chaste Tree creams and this all helped regulate my cycle.

    For the first time in years my periods were not an agonizing ordeal once a month. Even though I felt great, I never quite expected what happened our our honeymoon.

    This is where the story really begins…..


    Week 1…..

    Dum, dum de dum. Dum, dum de dum. The wedding was lovely and we were excited to head off to the Caribbean for our honeymoon. We decided that we would ‘start’ trying for a baby after we got married. After all my surgeries and complications which left me with only one ovary and slightly damaged fallopian tube, we expected it would take us a long time.

    So we threw caution to the wind and stopped using contraception from our wedding day. That first week of our honeymoon, would be the first of 40 unforgettable week for us. Even though the egg and sperm had not made each other’s acquaintance just yet, they were about to be introduced.

    My little egg, from my one good ovary, was making its way towards what would come to be known as my husband’s ‘super sperm’.

    Some women say they can remember the exact moment the ‘magic’ happened and even though we had a busy honeymoon (if you don’t do it loads on your honeymoon, when else will you?!) and there were lots of ‘special moments’ to choose from, there was one very special evening that stands out in my memory. Maybe it was the Mojito’s we had been sipping by the pool, or perhaps it was the saxophone playing outside our hotel room as the sun was setting (I swear I’m not making this up!) but I can remember feeling a little shudder run through me after we had done the deed, so to speak. It was probably my husband cranking up the air conditioning that gave me the little chill but sappy romantic that I am, I like to think it happened at that moment. Bucket anyone?


    Week 2…..

    Having jumped out of a plane (my husband, not me!), swimming with dolphins, snorkeling on the coral reef and generally living the high life for two weeks, little did we know there would be an even bigger adventure to go on when we got home….

    Week 3…

    I must have peed about 30 times on the flight home. I certainly had everyone else annoyed as hell because every time they went to the one and only toilet on our floor of the plane, I was in it. Sometimes I would pee, stand up, wash my hands and then as I was about to walk out of the loo, I would have to pee again. Of course I assumed I had some sort of kidney or bladder infection. We started blaming the water at the resort and all sorts of things but I did wonder, why there was no pain accompanying all this peeing and why it was not affecting my husband?

    When we got home there was a frantic message from my sister insisting I call her immediately. I picked up the phone and she told me her good news, she was pregnant! I was overjoyed but to be completely honest, a little bit jealous too. I wondered if it would ever happen for us too. Still, I was very excited at the prospect of becoming an aunt for the first time and was thrilled for her.

    Week 4….

    I went for lunch with my mam that week. I felt she was behaving a little odd around me but could not quite put my finger on it, so I said nothing about it. After we finished lunch, she pointed out that I had been to the lo 3 times in an hour. She looked at me as if to say ‘I know you’re pregnant even though you don’t know it yet yourself’ but said nothing. Still, its amazing what can be heard, even when no words are spoken and I started to wonder…Could I be? Could it happen so easily for us? I had assumed I came home with a bladder infection or something and was drinking copious amounts of cranberry juice and lemon barley water but it was not clearing up.

    I went home and thought some more about the frequent need to pee and the facts my boobs were tender when I moved about and I started to think that I may have come back from honeymoon with something else entirely…

    I called my husband and told him about my symptoms. He knew about the peeing but was not convinced it meant anything. I explained I felt kind of ‘different’, like something was happening inside of me. We had a funny moment where we just looked at each other wondering – could it be possible? To avoid any potential disappointments, he asked me to wait a week or so before taking a test because he was expecting to me say at any moment that my periodhas arrived.

    But ladies, if you’re anything like me, very nosey and completely impatient, you would know that it was impossible request. I look back now and I remember it was me who was telling one of the first lies in our new marriage. ‘Of course I’ll wait honey’ I told him, convincingly, as if it was no hassle to wait to find out, even though I was wrought with curiosity. I went on to lie even more by saying, ‘Sure, we don’t want to be jumping ahead of ourselves. After all, the doctors said it could be very difficult for us to conceive, so I wouldn’t want to build our hopes up just yet’. As I was uttering these words, my gut was telling me to get rid of my husband and get a pregnancy test as soon as possible…

    No sooner had we ended our conversation that I urged him to go out to the shops for something. The minute his car was around the corner and out of sight, I dashed out and got a pregnancy test. I brought it home, did the business and left it there in the bathroom, intending to wait outside for the recommended 3 minutes. Well, me being a nosey mare and totally impatient, I counted to 30n and ran back in, just to see if anything was happening and sure enough, when I looked down, there were 2 blue lines waiting for me. Even though I knew in my heart I was pregnant before I took that test, it was still a big shock to see it confirmed on those 2 blue lines.

    I phoned my husband ‘Come home now’ I demanded. He informed me that he was meeting the lads for a beer but I protested so much that he needed to come home that he reluctantly agreed. As he arrived in, I could hear him complaining, he was ranting and raving about how we would not be under my thumb just because we had gotten married. As he came up the stairs he was mumbling that if he wants to go out for a beer with the boys, I should not mind. After all, he complained, went off on enough girly days out so why should it be different for him?

    Just as he reached the top of the stairs and was still somewhere in the middle of his (probably rehearsed) lecture to me, he looked up and saw me, sitting on the side of our bed, pee covered stick in hand with big soppy tears running down my face.

    He looked at me, looked at the stick, looked at me again, looked at the stick again (he may have been in a state of shock come to think of it?) and then we had a moment of pure happiness as we looked at into each others eyes and said all we needed to say without uttering a single word. That lasted a few seconds and then he started dancing around, congratulating himself on his super sperm! Phrases such as ‘he shoots, he scores, and ‘hole in one’ were bandied about with fervent excitement!

    I was just sitting there, letting the gravity of the situation sink in and then, in the first of many paranoid acts to come over the next few months, I demanded he go out and get 2 more tests – just to be sure! Hurry up I called after him and he ran out the door. After the longest half an hour of my life, he returned. I wanted to throttle him for taking so long so he started to explain to me, how he had made sure to get ‘the best’ pregnancy test there is and how he and the chemist (you just know this was another man!) had been discussing the science behind them before picking the best one. i.e. Code for the most expensive one there!

    It had already started, he was going mad and we had only 1 test to confirm we were actually expecting a baby. He justified his lengthly absence by explaining he wanted the best test for his wife and possibly his baby.

    As I peeing on to a further 2 sticks, he was rambling on about why its important to pee a certain way and for a certain amount of time. Honestly, its peeing on a stick, just how scientific can it be! He was still yakking away when I came out with another 2 blue lines and 2 pink circles. It looked like we were definitely having a baby. I looked at him, with my hand on my tummy (for full dramatic effect) and I knew it was right and I felt so very happy.

    Week 5….
    It was my birthday and he was taking me out to my favourite restaurant for dinner. I was very proud of myself, almost 5 weeks pregnant and there was not a bother on me. I was confident I was going to sail through my pregnancy. I wondered what women were complaining about! There seemed to me to be nothing to this pregnancy business. I got all dressed up for dinner. I spent ages on hair and make-up. Just because I was pregnant and could not quite paint the town red anymore did not mean I could not get dollied up for dinner with my new husband. As we headed out the door I felt great and reckoned I didn’t look too bad either.

    We got the restaurant. The smell in the air was lovely. The ambiance was perfect. The candle on our table was alight. The tablecloth crisp and clean. It was lovely and romantic and I was happily (ok I admit it, slightly smugly) thinking to myself that life was really great. I was out with my lovely new husband in my favourite restaurant and I had a little baby growing inside me. I felt very lucky and was in sparkling good form.

    I ordered my favourite dish and my mouth was salivating at the thought of it. Out it came, looking delicious, steaming hot and smelling….oh no….it was put down in front of me and the mushrooms; I will NEVER Forget those mushrooms, the sight of them was bad enough but the smell of them. I had to put my hand over my mouth and dash to the ladies to stop myself throwing up all over the lovely table in the quaint restaurant. I sprinted, at Olympic speed, to the ladies room and promptly threw up. When I came back, I had to check – from a distance first – that the plate had been taken away, incase it started me off again.

    Amazingly, I was still starving and was able to order something else. The waiter, who had been very gracious and understanding, gave me a wink and said that his sister had been like that when pregnant, so he understood. He was the first person to find out out special secret. A waiter in a restaurant that we had never met before but are unlikely to forget!

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